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LIVE from the Camino From Cuenca to Siguenza on the Lana

Bachibouzouk

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Voie de Soulac, Frances, De La Plata, Sureste/Levante, Manchego, Ruta del Argar.
I finally made it back to Cuenca after a hiatus of just over three years. Flew in to Madrid yesterday and overnighted in the albergue last night. Now sitting in Bar Goyo in Villar de Domingo Garcia knocking back cañas waiting for Pavlov's feeding bell at 20:00.

My plans have changed a little. Due to exigencies at home, I'll only be walking as far as Siguenza on this occasion. We've just bought a new flat and I couldn't really leave my other half to do all the refurbishing and redecorating while I was swanning along yet another Camino. Or could I? I had to think long and hard about that one! Also it occurred to me that 15 days was just too tight to get from Cuenca to Burgos and do all the off-Camino I'd like to do. It would be pedal to the floor and eyes to the ground. Of course, when I got to Cuenca, Luis, the hospitalero, told me that it was possible to do it in 12!

Some interesting facts gleaned from the signing-in book at Casa del Peregrino in Cuenca (as beautifully and colourfully kept as I remembered it). Only 144 peregrinos had stayed there since my last visit (04/10/19) and only 10 in 2020. Things are picking up slowly: 43 in 2021 and 71 so far this year. We, peregrinos, are, by and large, a group of a 'certain age' if we remove the local bicigrinos, who quite frankly lower the tone and the average. It wasn't scientific but 50-70 seemed to me our age range with a majority at the further end of this scale. My guess is that we have the time? Nationalities: as expected. Mostly Europeans, some Americans and Canadians and two from Colombia. Gender was more difficult to establish as a number of Christian names were unfamiliar to me and neither Luis nor Andres keep a record. In this day and age probably quite rightly so too.

For the record: Luis can be reached on 636 351 061 and Andres on 686 820 660.

As for today: some 30 kms, probably a few more as I lost the trail after Villabilla and had to yomp across fields, mostly on asphalt. I was cursing the carretera until the rain started and the track became thick and sticky. The soles of my boots clogged up with mud and it was like walking in platform boots and slipping all over the place with no grip. Oddly the heels seemed to gather most mud and I felt like (what I imagine, of course!) it must be like to walk in high heels. In Villar de Domingo Garcia I was told this was the first rain since May. So heavy was the rain once I got here that I was caught in the albergue unable to get out for a good half hour for those desperately needed 'cañas'.

For the record: the Hostal Rasil in Nohales is open. I had a late breakfast there with their two beautiful cats. Neither liked the 'magdalenas' I offered to share with them ;-(

Chillaron de Cuenca has two of everything: tiendas, bars, fuentes, Hotel Midama and Hostal Los Angeles. I imagine this might make a good stop for anyone wanting to spend more time, but not a second night, in Cuenca.

After CdC there are only fuentes until Villar de Domingo Garcia but these were at ideal distances so that I did not have to carry any water today.

The Yacimiento museum In Noheda was (almost inevitably?) closed. It appears to be only open for guided tours and upon reservations at this time of the year. It seems to be closed Monday to Wednesday throughout the whole year anyway but with better visiting options April to September.

In Villar de Domingo Garcia the bar Plaza is closed and for sale. Bar Goyo Is now the only option in town. Not a bad one at that. It opens at 08:00 in the morning at this time of year - it's not fully light till then anyway. The albergue is simple and donativo.

The highlight for me today was the abandoned village of Villabilla. It felt like Putin and the Russians had recently called. Anyone know anymore? Presumably it has long since been abandoned, I saw no trace of concrete, only stone, wood and a few bricks. The derelict church with its stoved in roof looked particularly mournful.

Today the Camino threw up blackberries, wild gigs and walnuts. Just before Villabilla I spotted three deer-like animals ('corzo' or for deer as per Paoliño) and just after the village a shepherd and his dogs herding a massive flock of several hundred sheep. Well it is the Ruta de la Lana.

A good start but I worry about the state of the off-road sections of the Camino after this afternoon's downpour.

Alfín del Asfalto
 
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Camino Way markers in Bronze
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk. Discount is taken at check out, only by using this link.
I finally made it back to Cuenca after a hiatus of just over three years. Flew in to Madrid yesterday and overnighted in the albergue last night. Now sitting in Bar Goyo in Villar de Domingo Garcia knocking back cañas waiting for Pavlov's feeding bell at 20:00.

My plans have changed a little. Due to exigencies at home, I'll only be walking as far as Siguenza on this occasion. We've just bought a new flat and I couldn't really leave my other half to do all the refurbishing and redecorating while I was swanning along yet another Camino. Or could I? I had to think long and hard about that one! Also it occurred to me that 15 days was just too tight to get from Cuenca to Burgos and do all the off-Camino I'd like to do. It would be pedal to the floor and eyes to the ground. Of course, when I got to Cuenca, Luis, the hospitalero, told me that it was possible to do it in 12!

Some interesting facts gleaned from the signing-in book at Casa del Peregrino in Cuenca (as beautifully and colourfully kept as I remembered it). Only 144 peregrinos had stayed there since my last visit (04/10/19) and only 10 in 2020. Things are picking up slowly: 43 in 2021 and 71 so far this year. We, peregrinos, are, by and large, a group of a 'certain age' if we remove the local bicigrinos, who quite frankly lower the tone and the average. It wasn't scientific but 50-70 seemed to me our age range with a majority at the further end of this scale. My guess is that we have the time? Nationalities: as expected. Mostly Europeans, some Americans and Canadians and two from Colombia. Gender was more difficult to establish as a number of Christian names were unfamiliar to me and neither Luis nor Andres keep a record. In this day and age probably quite rightly so too.

For the record: Luis can be reached on 636 351 061 and Andres on 686 820 660.

As for today: some 30 kms, probably a few more as I lost the trail after Villabilla and had to yomp across fields, mostly on asphalt. I was cursing the carretera until the rain started and the track became thick and sticky. The soles of my boots clogged up with mud and it was like walking in platform boots and slipping all over the place with no grip. Oddly the heels seemed to gather most mud and I felt like (what I imagine, of course!) it must be like to walk in high heels. In Villar de Domingo Garcia I was told this was the first rain since May. So heavy was the rain once I got here that I was caught in the albergue unable to get out for a good half hour for those desperately needed 'cañas'.

For the record: the Hostal Rasil in Nohales is open. I had a late breakfast there with their two beautiful cats. Neither liked the 'magdalenas' I offered to share with them ;-(

Chillaron de Cuenca has two of everything: tiendas, bars, fuentes, Hotel Midama and Hostal Los Angeles. I imagine this might make a good stop for anyone wanting to spend more time, but not a second night, in Cuenca.

After CdC there are only fuentes until Villar de Domingo Garcia but these were at ideal distances so that I did not have to carry any water today.

The Yacimiento museum In Noheda was (almost inevitably?) closed. It appears to be only open for guided tours and upon reservations at this time of the year. It seems to be closed Monday to Wednesday throughout the whole year anyway but with better visiting options April to September.

In Villar de Domingo Garcia the bar Plaza is closed and for sale. Bar Goyo Is now the only option in town. Not a bad one at that.

The highlight for me today was the abandoned village of Villabilla. It felt like Putin and the Russians had recently called. Anyone know anymore? Presumably it has long since been abandoned, I saw no trace of concrete, only stone, wood and a few bricks. The derelict church with its stoved in roof looked particularly mournful.

Today the Camino threw up blackberries, wild gigs and walnuts. Just before Villabilla I spotted three deer-like animals and just after the village a shepherd and his dogs herding a massive flock of several hundred sheep. Well it is the Ruta d

A good start but I worry about the state of the off-road sections of the Camino after this afternoon's downpour.

Alfín del Asfalto
Thank you for your well written report, it has piqued my interest in the Lana once again! I walked from Alicante to Cuenca in early 2019, in 12 days of total solitude with not another pilgrim in sight and scarcely a word of English heard. It was a lonely but fascinating camino. I'm glad to hear Luis is still taking care of the albergue in Cuenca, he was a very helpful and obliging hospi.

Your report is timely too. I return to Spain to serve in Canfranc Pueblo in a couple of days and afterwards to visit a friend in Zaragoza for a day or two. That will leave me some days before flying home out of Madrid and I would like to walk a few days. I hope you keep posting so I can follow your progress, maybe this is a good time for me to pick up where I left off...
 
It was abandoned as late as the 1980's, mainly due to lack of water. It looks much older!

Info in Spanish: Villalbilla

Thanks BP. My Spanish still isn't good enough to do much research. 1980s is surprising but the telephone poles and wires are still in evidence. Little vegetation in evidence so lack of water would indeed appear to be the reason. It's rare to see a village in such a state, though maybe not in arid countries. One in which nature has yet to take over again. It really looks more like ravages of war. Initially I thought perhaps the village was a victim of the Civil War.
 
I finally made it back to Cuenca after a hiatus of just over three years. Flew in to Madrid yesterday and overnighted in the albergue last night. Now sitting in Bar Goyo in Villar de Domingo Garcia knocking back cañas waiting for Pavlov's feeding bell at 20:00.

My plans have changed a little. Due to exigencies at home, I'll only be walking as far as Siguenza on this occasion. We've just bought a new flat and I couldn't really leave my other half to do all the refurbishing and redecorating while I was swanning along yet another Camino. Or could I? I had to think long and hard about that one! Also it occurred to me that 15 days was just too tight to get from Cuenca to Burgos and do all the off-Camino I'd like to do. It would be pedal to the floor and eyes to the ground. Of course, when I got to Cuenca, Luis, the hospitalero, told me that it was possible to do it in 12!

Some interesting facts gleaned from the signing-in book at Casa del Peregrino in Cuenca (as beautifully and colourfully kept as I remembered it). Only 144 peregrinos had stayed there since my last visit (04/10/19) and only 10 in 2020. Things are picking up slowly: 43 in 2021 and 71 so far this year. We, peregrinos, are, by and large, a group of a 'certain age' if we remove the local bicigrinos, who quite frankly lower the tone and the average. It wasn't scientific but 50-70 seemed to me our age range with a majority at the further end of this scale. My guess is that we have the time? Nationalities: as expected. Mostly Europeans, some Americans and Canadians and two from Colombia. Gender was more difficult to establish as a number of Christian names were unfamiliar to me and neither Luis nor Andres keep a record. In this day and age probably quite rightly so too.

For the record: Luis can be reached on 636 351 061 and Andres on 686 820 660.

As for today: some 30 kms, probably a few more as I lost the trail after Villabilla and had to yomp across fields, mostly on asphalt. I was cursing the carretera until the rain started and the track became thick and sticky. The soles of my boots clogged up with mud and it was like walking in platform boots and slipping all over the place with no grip. Oddly the heels seemed to gather most mud and I felt like (what I imagine, of course!) it must be like to walk in high heels. In Villar de Domingo Garcia I was told this was the first rain since May. So heavy was the rain once I got here that I was caught in the albergue unable to get out for a good half hour for those desperately needed 'cañas'.

For the record: the Hostal Rasil in Nohales is open. I had a late breakfast there with their two beautiful cats. Neither liked the 'magdalenas' I offered to share with them ;-(

Chillaron de Cuenca has two of everything: tiendas, bars, fuentes, Hotel Midama and Hostal Los Angeles. I imagine this might make a good stop for anyone wanting to spend more time, but not a second night, in Cuenca.

After CdC there are only fuentes until Villar de Domingo Garcia but these were at ideal distances so that I did not have to carry any water today.

The Yacimiento museum In Noheda was (almost inevitably?) closed. It appears to be only open for guided tours and upon reservations at this time of the year. It seems to be closed Monday to Wednesday throughout the whole year anyway but with better visiting options April to September.

In Villar de Domingo Garcia the bar Plaza is closed and for sale. Bar Goyo Is now the only option in town. Not a bad one at that.

The highlight for me today was the abandoned village of Villabilla. It felt like Putin and the Russians had recently called. Anyone know anymore? Presumably it has long since been abandoned, I saw no trace of concrete, only stone, wood and a few bricks. The derelict church with its stoved in roof looked particularly mournful.

Today the Camino threw up blackberries, wild gigs and walnuts. Just before Villabilla I spotted three deer-like animals and just after the village a shepherd and his dogs herding a massive flock of several hundred sheep. Well it is the Ruta d

A good start but I worry about the state of the off-road sections of the Camino after this afternoon's downpour.

Alfín del Asfalto
Thanks for your write up😊.
I'm on that list from 2019 too (Luis drew a Dutch flag next to my name). I walked from Alicante to Cuenca in March and also stopped in Cuenca. Finishing up is still on my list but I keep walking other Caminos!
Thank you for your well written report, it has piqued my interest in the Lana once again! I walked from Alicante to Cuenca in early 2019, in 12 days of total solitude with not another pilgrim in sight and scarcely a word of English heard. It was a lonely but fascinating camino. I'm glad to hear Luis is still taking care of the albergue in Cuenca, he was a very helpful and obliging hospi.
I too was alone for all but one night. Luckily I speak Spanish so I was able to at least communicate with locals.

I agree Luis is a gem. He is also an avid Camino walker. We met the first time back in 2013 when a group of us hospitaleros walked into Santiago on December 31st to spend New Years together. It was nice to see him again in the albergue.
 
How to avoid failure "be prepared"
3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc
I too was alone for all but one night. Luckily I speak Spanish so I was able to at least communicate with locals.

I agree Luis is a gem. He is also an avid Camino walker. We met the first time back in 2013 when a group of us hospitaleros walked into Santiago on December 31st to spend New Years together. It was nice to see him again in the albergue.
I never worry too much about my spanish, appalling as it is. It's always enough to manage on lonely caminos and always appreciated.

Yes, Luis is one of the good guys. I met him again by chance walking up from Tomar on the Portugués in 2020 when almost nobody was walking.
 
Sitting in the sun in the square in Albendea following a wonderful morning's walk. Started with a misty dawn but was soon followed by clear blue skies but I am getting ahead of myself.

Villar de Domingo Garcia -Villaconejos de Trabaque (yesterday): a beautiful sunny morning but following the previous day's torrential rain 'heavy going' in racing parlance. Congealed, glutinous mud that glued itself to the soles of my boots. I developed a shake, scrape and kick it tick every few steps. It was hard work until Torralba.

Torralba has three bars. None of which was ostensibly Bar Goyo. Tienda and fuentes. Nice little village square with the Olmo de Consejo. Probably not the original one, planted in 1787. An overnight stay here would allow for an ascent to the white tower, from which the village presumably gets its name and from which there must be spectacular views. In the church, which was open as the altar was being refurbished, are the remains and a massive floor to ceiling marble memorial to Don Luis de Salcedo, a knight of Santiago and a member of the council of Philip II, Ill and IV. Very impressive.

After Torralba the going got easier, the path became stonier and chalkier. Beautiful vistas of harvested wheat fields undulating into the distance.

Albalate de las Nogueras. I arrived just as the church bell was tolling a funeral. I imagine this a very frequent occurrence in these parts with mostly only the elderly remaining in the pueblos. Moments later I spotted my first vultures of the trip, circling overhead.

Bar/restaurante at the entrance to the village but couldn't confirm that it is also a hostal. Tienda and a couple of fuentes, a!though the first looked and smelled insalubrious. No ill effects from the latter in front of the church.

Nice walk from there into Villaconejos de Trabaque. I think there's is nothing much more that I can add to the hospitality and welcome offered by Pepe and Paoliňo. It really is beyond the call of duty. Paoliño gave me guided tour and explanation of the 'cuevas', afer which we broke bread in Pepe's family 'cueva'. A very convivial evening with 'sopa de ajo' cooked on the open fire, ham, various charcuteries, salad, much of Pepe's wine and coffee infused 'arguadiente' was consumed. A real one-off evening on the Camino. The albergue is pretty good too!

In VdT there is now only the one bar (open from 07:30), a tienda and possibly a small supermarket (closed when I walked by). Sadly both the Zig Zag and Nueva Galaxia discotecas have closed down. Sadly because after Pepe's hospitality there is only the albergue to go back to! Clearly a case of this village ain't big enough for either of us!

If you still have the legs, and I mean after you arrive and before Pepe's hospitality, there's a fabulous 360 degree panoramic view up past the church and from the rather brutalist Christ The Redeemer. You might be lucky and spot the blue-eyed feral cat taking in the view up there too.

More later - there are still some 12 kms to do this afternoon.

Alfín del Asfslto
 
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I think I've made up my mind already, I'm going to continue this path from Cuenca for the free days I have in early November, for a week or so.

Last time, in early 2019 I used Kevin O'Brien's wonderful guide, and it was invaluable, essential even.

I was wondering and can I ask, are you using any of his 2018 guide for reference and if so, how up to date is it now, 4 years on ?
 
Yes I am using Kevin O'Brien's guide. It is still pretty much still up to date. Am also using a good deal of information gleaned on this forum, particularly from those who contributed to the virtual Ruta de la Lana.
 
Villasconejos del Trabaque to Salmeron

Fortified by Pepe's spirit (spirits?) I made good progress. This is a lovely stretch with only the 5kms between Albendea and Valdeolivas on tarmac. Even that was OK with very few cars.

I had a couple of beer stops first, a lengthy one, in Albendea, where the panaderia triples up as a bar and very basic tienda and a second, much shorter, one in the beautiful square in Valdeolivas. Two nice spots to break up the day's walk. It's a fair old hike to Albendea (17kms?) with no fuentes.

A little before you reach Albendea there's a ford to cross. Pepe had warned me not to attempt it barefoot - 'peligroso', he said because of the algae. It did look quite daunting when I got there after the rain storm of a couple of days ago. The stream (Rio Guadiela) seemed to be flowing pretty fast and quite deep. I made it across without mishap and in actual fact the crossing appeared much more challenging that it actually was. For those not wanting to use the ford: instead of turning left down to the stream, carry straight on to the road and catch up with Camino on the other side of the stream. You won't lose any time, in fact you'll probably be quicker going that way - but it won't be nearly as exciting. You won't need to go down to and back up from the river, double wrap your passport and other valuables in plastic bags, hesitate and plan, search for a sturdy stick if you don't walk with poles, take off boots, do a 'wet run' without your rucksack, dry your feet on the other side, etc.....

Albendea has a fuente for those that don't want to stop there.

Valdeolivas has two bars, one with a small array of goods for sale, and a tienda but the Hostal Infantado looked well and truly mothballed. Several fuentes.

From there to Salmeron it's only a further 6 kms and Salmeron is a good place to overnight. The albergue (5.00 euros and key from Bar Cazador) is in an old building part of which was confiscated and used by the Inquisition. I kept expecting the Monty Python crew to jump out at me. It's a good albergue with good shower and hot water. Microwave only, so you'll probably have to eat in the rather lugubrious Bar Cazador, the only option in town (La Mazmora was open but it looked like it was only serving beers on its terrace). There's nothing wrong with the food at the Cazador as long as you don't mind stuffed animals and boars heads staring down at you from the walls as you eat in semi-darkness. It's the sort of place that doesn't like to turn on a light needlessly and where the tree or four grizzled patrons are silently glued to the TV watching hunting documentaries. No need to get into the pros and cons of shooting wild animals here but I'd never thought of it as a spectator sport. The Hogar del Pensionista had more vim and vigour with loud music belting out from inside. They're trying to keep life going there!

Someone, I think Alan Sykes, had awarded the title of La Mancha's Surliest Barman to the guy behind the bar at the Cazador. I couldn't work out which one he was referring to. There was a father and son combination and a third family member all behind the bar at one time or another. All three deserved the title. Perhaps the Surliest Family In La Mancha?

Alfìn del Asfalto
 
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A selection of Camino Jewellery
Salmeron to Viana de Mondejar

A fabulous day. You will need to carry water with you as there are no fuentes in between. I had hoped to make an early start and cover the 21kms fairly quickly, drop off my rucksack at the albergue in Viana de Mondejar, head up to the Teta Redonda with just my camera and a book and watch the setting sun. But the best laid plans, mice and men, .....

When I arrived in Salmeron the previous afternoon Son of Surly had informed me that the tienda wouldn't be open until morning. (I needed one or two items to feed myself in Viana de Mondejar, where there really is no food option). I didn't rush to get up and by the time I was packed it was nearing 09:00. An old lady told me the shop opened at 10:00. I wandered around taking a few photos of the triangular square, the oddly assembled church and a group of stray cats casting long shadows on the walls. I was then approached by Esteban, one of the Guadalajara Amigos, who recognised me straight away as a Peregrino and offered to show me around and opened up the church for me, as he too waited for the shop to open. Inside the church the accretions were even more bizarre and obvious. The gateway and tower to the old Moorish village have been assimilated into the church itself. The tower is obvious from the outside but you'd need to be shown the arched gateway on the inside. 10:00 o'clock came and went and what passes for a crowd here, three plus the bread delivery van, was beginning to gather. A good deal of phoning on mobile phones occurred but to no obvious effect. At 11:00 a feckless youth, clearly just out of bed rolled up laconically. 'Hey, you been for a haircut?' one wag called out. 'In the next town?' asks another. I wasn't in the least surprised to hear that the youth was a cousin to the Surlys. By the time I'd bought my tin of sardines, bread and packet of biscuits, returned the key of the albergue and had a spot of breakfast it was 11:30. It's a fair old climb straight up out of Salmeron, so if you don't want to do it in the midday sun plan better/be luckier than I was. Having said that, Esteban's guided visit was well worth the delay.

After the climb it's a three hour flat walk on the plateau, often shaded, through forests of dwarf oaks. At one point you need to make the choice between carrying on on the Ruta de la Lana or taking a detour to the Romanesque church and destroyed village of Villaescusa de Palositos on private land. To do the latter you need to climb a fence and follow the path. I got through a second gate and rolled under a third and made my way up to the little derelict church. The shutters to the hacienda were closed and there were no dogs. I'd got away with my trespass and went back down to the two gates were I'd left my pack and continued around the bottom of the hillock on which the hacienda stands. Just past the hacienda dogs started barking, my heart skipped a beat. The dogs set off a cattle stampede right across my path and in short order I heard voices and the rumble of a car engine. I was starting to rehearse my excuses and within less than a minute a 4x4 pick-up truck pulled me up short. in my worst possible Spanish (quite easy really) I explained that I knew that I was on private land (difficult to pretend otherwise after a fence and two gates) but that I had been told (b*******t) both in Cuenca and in Villaconejos del Trabaque that it would be OK to visit the church providing I was 'tranquilo' and 'sin hacer malo', that I was a pilgrim walking 'de iglesia en iglesia hasta Santiago' and please don't shoot. The guy in the car was either baffled or not amused but he did offer to drive me to the gate and unlock it for me. I, of course, had to decline, sticking to my story that I was walking all the way and couldn't accept a lift. Whereupon the f*****r followed right behind me me at walking pace in his car for the next kilometre. The concha on my backpack felt like it had become one of those red, blue and white targets. At the gate he stayed in his truck and no doubt had a good laugh as I crawled under it in the dust. I had well and truly been unceremoniously escorted off the property. Did I care? My notes tell me that the village, church and land had been bought by some rich guy who had raised the village to the ground and was using the land as a private hunting range. I shall wear my expulsion as a badge of honour. But let this be a warning for those who do not like confrontation or blagging. The other route is scarcely longer, possibly shorter. There's about 500m in it.

There's a wonderful first view of the Tetas de Viana as you pass the col which descended into Viana de Mondejar.

It was another cracking day on the Camino.

For information:

The albergue in VdM is modern and spotless. I wish I had a shower room like that at home, but note:
1) You need provisions. There is zippo in the village.
2) To use the phone numbers on the albergue door (620 961 743 and 620 961 744) to summon someone from the Ayuntamiento in Trillo to open for you, you will need to phone from a little further up the hill.
3) The albergue only has one blanket.
4) It is absolutely free.

VdM is very quiet but far from rundown or going to seed. Houses are virtually all in good conditions. Second homes? There is a social club past the church and opposite the 'fronton' but nobody was being social when I went by searching for that elusive beer! There's a great spot just beyond the 'fronton' and arch to watch the setting sun. Magnificent views of the Tetas from just about everywhere. Fuente in village.

Alfín del Asfalto
 
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Mondejar de Viana to Cifuentes

Set off early and climbed the 300m over 2kms up to Teta Redonda. The climb is pretty straight forward, some broken and rocky path also graded track. Where it becomes trickier there is a chain hand-rail (20 metres) and a caged metallic ladder (also about 20 metres). Anyone who has got this far will manage the climb, no problem. Views from the top are spectacular, only blighted by the cooling towers of the nuclear power station at Trillo. Early in the morning, you are above the mist that fills every valley below. I would urge anyone to go up. At the cleavage between Redonda and Larga, I missed the best photo opportunity, possibly of my whole life, by a split second. Half a dozen mountain goats (or possibly ibex?) were jumping from one rock stack to another with a clear blue sky as background. Almost literally gliding across.

It probably isn't too surprising that The Tetas de Viana are used as a symbol for the fight against breast cancer. The previous weekend 500 volunteers had climbed the Teta Redonda and set a mark in the Guinness Book of Records by placing more than 5,700 square metres of fabric on the top forming a giant pink ribbon.

For those of you who want to stick rigidly to the Camino, why not leave your rucksack at the albergue (you'll have the key) and climb up with just your camera? It won't take you anymore than a couple of hours to get up and down. I took my rucksack with me and left it at the bottom of the metallic ladder (there was no-one else around) and carried on down to Trillo. The route to Trillo is clearly indicated from the cleavage between the two Tetas. It's 5.5kms to Trillo this way, but note, this could be a sticky and slippery track after any rain. There's no way up Teta Larga that I could find. You'd need climbing gear and, because I've been reading about George Leigh Mallory lately, I leave that for 'other men, less wise'.*

Breezed through Trillo with just a quick stop for a boccadillo and a cerveza. Nice enough town but it was Saturday and the town was full of weekenders and middle aged men in flashy leathers and very expensive motorbikes. It's a lovely walk beyond Trilllo along the burbling Rio Cifuentes. Many quince trees in fruit. A fruit I don't see very often. We had a quince tree in our garden when I was a child and I well remember my grandmother spending long hours peeling, stewing, bottling and labelling her quince jelly. I'm still very partial to all those sweet derivatives of the 'membrillo'.

Gargoles de Abajo has 'cuevas' but with very different entrances to those of Villaconejos de Trabaque. Several fuentes, a bar which was closed but showed signs that it had recently been open, and a 'chiringuito' down by the Roman bridge, which definitely was open (may only be open at weekends?). Just outside the pueblo is a derelict water-mill and an industrial sized chimney, which I was told was the paper-mill from which the Republic printed its bank notes.

In Gargoles de Arriba there is a bar (closed on Thursdays), a fuente and apparently a tienda.

Bar Salmeron in Cifuentes was closed when I arrived and there was no number posted on the door to call for the albergue. I wasn't too upset, and probably had the number somewhere in my bag, as the write-up for the albergue is hardly inspiring. I pushed on to the Hostal San Roque (30.00 euros for a single room and which I did not find to be too far from the centre of town). Hostal Secuoyas, in the Plaza Mayor is, of course, much more central but appeared somewhat more upmarket. It has no reception, so either advanced booking or a phone call is required.

It's a short climb up to the 'castillo', which is closed off for restoration. If you've been up the Tetas you will have seen much better views, particularly as the castle is surrounded by tall trees. The secret synagogue is still behind a hideous iron gate but the portal is clearly on display. I was told that this was probably a meeting p!ace that Conversos used to celebrate their true faith.

Alfìn del Asfalto

* George Leigh Mallory on the 1921 reconnaissance expedition to Everest on first seeing the Kangshung Face. The Kangshung Face wasn't climbed until 1983. The great Stephen Venables was part of the second expedition to do so. This team were the first to do it without oxygen. Venables became the first Brit to summit Everest without supplemental oxygen, surviving overnight in the open in the Death Zone (very few have done that) and spending more than 90 hours in the Death Zone, an altitude at which, it is said, the human being cannot adapt. He did lose some digits to frostbite but unlike Mallory he survived to tell the tale. As Rheingold Messner was to say 'You did a great thing but you were lucky'. The toils of the Camino become relative.
 
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Cifuentes to Mandoyana

I left Cifuentes as quickly as I could, interesting town though it is. There was a mountain bike race in town and a loud speaker booming out instructions to the lads in lycra. The Bar Salmeron was now open and I dropped in for a quick coffee before setting off.

If you look over your left shoulder as you leave Cifuentes you will see the Tetas de Viana and the twin towers of the nuclear power station. Indeed, you will be able to see the former and the plumes of the latter, on and off, until well after Las Inviernas. Gives you a very good idea of the ground you have covered.

Some may find the painted houses at Moranchel a little twee and quaint, I found them delightful and very colourful. I'd met the lady painter, Asun Vicente Rios, the previous day in Gargoles de Arriba, where she was decorating the bench by the church. I think she has a Facebook page: La Panaderia de Moranchel. There's a fuente (Agua Non Vigilada - but no side effects here) in Moranchel. It's a little hidden away but you should be able to hear it from the square in front of the Ayuntamiento. Bar Rimun is closed in winter (October to March?) and on Mondays the rest of the year.

It was another blue sky day but on the plateau a stiff breeze was blowing. The wind was warm so it was fine but I imagine on a cold, wet day this could well be a very exposed stretch of Camino.

Las Inviernas looks more like a collection of sheds as you approach it. What little there is of the village hides on the other side of the ridge, presumably sheltering from the worst of the winds and the fiercest of the sun. There is a bar and three fuentes. The church is rather pretty with its wooden portico and what I take to be Inquisition graffiti on the entrance pillars. Very friendly locals, especially the señora who runs the bar.

Two or three kilometres after you've crossed the high-speed railway line you arrive at the motorway. Just before you cross it there is a petrol station and a cafeteria. I hadn't planned to stop here, as I'd already done so in Las Inviernas, but there was cold beer, bar food and 'platos combinados' and some very inviting tables and chairs in the sun.

I didn't stop in Mirabueno but I did notice a bar (open) and there were two fuentes just after the village. At this point you are within spitting distance of Mandayona, which you can see two or three kilometres away. It's a nice easy downhill run-in from here.

The albergue in Mandayona was a genuine surprise. I was expecting to sleep on the floor of the Ayuntamiento on a blow-up mattress. Hot water but no shower, I'd read somewhere. In fact, it is the cleanest and possibly best albergue I've stayed in. It is in the Medical Centre, hence the cleanliness. Its in a new building, certainly sterile, but with a great hot water shower and even Wifi. On the downside, well you can't have everything, there are no blankets and there are no shutters/blinds to the window - you're on the ground floor. Neither worried me but Peregrinas may find the latter unsettling. You will need to give Oscar ample notice (48 hours) of your visit on: 619 463 734. Donativo.

There was light on at Hostal Rural Cumbres de Castill but no sign of life at the Hostal El Cuartel Del Rio Dulce (closed for the winter?). I ate well enough at Bar Los Milagros (closed Mondays) and the barman was 'muy simpatico'. I never did find Bar/Restaurante La Estampida. Perhaps that's down on the river and I will come across it tomorrow? There's an ATM machine here and several fuentes.

Alfìn del Asfalto
 
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Mandoyana to Siguenza

It is at Mandoyana that the Ruta de la Lana splits. The original route goes straight to Atienza, the other goes to Atienza via the Parque Natural Barranco Del Rio Dulce and Siguenza. A half-asleep zombie will easily head off the wrong way. Luckily a local asked me where I was going before I went too far!

From Mandoyana the Ruta de la Lana follows both the GR20 and the Camino del Cid until Pelegrina, where it drops the GR20 and picks up the Ruta Don Quijote and another GR (160). From Pelegrina there are waymarks for one route or another just about every 20 metres!

Be advised: there are no pit stops all day. The tienda and the panaderia in Mandoyana do not open until 09:30 and, being Monday, Bar Los Milagros was closed. I set off on an empty stomach rather than wait for opening time.

There's a picturesque church and a fuente in Aragosa and I saw the Casa Rural that has been mentioned in these pages.

La Cabrera also had a pleasant feel to it with a nice church and a fuente. Restaurante El Balcon Del Dulce was closed (possibly only open at weekends?). I suspect most of the houses here are second homes.

The approach to Pelegrina is stunning as you exit the trees and the forest. The castillo ruins high above with an azure blue sky as a background. It's a bit of a schlep up to the village, which isn't actually on the Camino, and a little further up still to the castillo. But it was well worth it to see the kettle (a term I first came across here on this forum) of vultures. Possibly 30-40 of them whirling around before they dispersed in all directions. Bar Baja in the village was closed. Fuente.

As you leave Pelegrina behind there's an ambiguous set of waymarks leading you to a farm gate which clearly tells you the route does not go through the farm. There's an obvious path a little further below but that is not the route. You need to head right up to the gate an then pass just to the left of it. After that, the route is very well sign-posted.

Although a short-ish stretch (23kms) and a very nice walk, it was a struggle for me. Last day blues? Only a few walnuts picked up along the way as sustenance? A developing blister on the sole of my heel? My backpack seemed to get even heavier than usual as the afternoon progressed. The last 5kms into Siguenza were a bit of an ordeal. Then, as I got onto the careterra, I was stopped by the Guardia Civile. I was walking on the right hand side of the road. Like all of us here, I should imagine, I always walk into incoming traffic.... except when I'm going into a blind bend, which I was now doing. I tried initially to explain the concept of the blind bend in Spanish but just couldn't manage it. 'Here in Spain' I was told 'you must walk on the left hand side of the road. No es negociable'. I had no intention, nor the will, to negotiate anything at all at that point and just crossed over. But who makes up these dogmatic rules? Even more mindless was the Guardia Civile stopping their car right in the blind bend to set me right!

After a shower, some food and a few cold beers I felt much better. Siguenza is certainly a town to spend a little time in. With that in mind I had sought out a hotel, rather than the Padres Josefinos, as I wanted to leave my bag somewhere the following morning before catching the afternoon train to Madrid.

I stayed in Albergue Cuidad De Doncel, which is a little out of the 'casco antiguo' but right on the Camino for the following stage. It's a kind of youth hostel. Rooms each with one bunk bed, shower and WC. 35.00 euros for the room including breakfast. Breakfast is usually at 09:00 but I was asked if I required it earlier - I didn't. Tel: 665 010 622.

I asked about the Padres Josefinos at the Tourist Office. They would appear to be taking peregrinos again (there was some talk that they were closed for refurbishing) but subject to their other commitments. Tel: 949 390 890. I was told that the Hostal El Albergue, up by the castillo, has dorm beds for 23.00 euros. Tel: 609 378 111. I also noticed the Hotel Laberinto, between the station and the old town. Another hostal that has been mentioned on this forum. Tel: 659 408 879.

And that is just about it. I hope to resume the walk from Siguenza as far as Burgos next year.

I owe a great deal of gratitude to all of those who contributed to the virtual Ruta de la Lana thread during lockdown, it made planning very straight forward. You know who you are. Muchas gracias.

I'll probably post again when I get home to tie things up and maybe make a few suggestions.

Till then Buen Camino a todos.

Alfìn del Asfalto
Cifuentes to Mandoyana

I left Cifuentes as quickly as I could, interesting town though it is. There was a mountain bike race in town and a loud speaker booming out instructions to the lads in lycra. The Bar Salmeron was now open and I dropped in for a quick coffee before setting off.

If you look over your left shoulder as you leave Cifuentes you will see the Tetas de Viana and the twin towers of the nuclear power station. Indeed, you will be able to see the former and the plumes of the latter, on and off, until well after Las Inviernas. Gives you a very good idea of the ground you have covered.

Some may find the painted houses at Moranchel a little twee and quaint, I found them delightful and very colourful. I'd met the lady painter the previous day in Gargoles de Arriba, where she was decorating the bench by the church. I think she has a Facebook page: La Panaderia de Moranchel. There's a fuente (Agua Non Vigilada - but no side effects here) in Moranchel. It's a little hidden away but you should be able to hear it from the square in front of the Ayuntamiento. Bar Rimun is closed in winter (October to March?) and on Mondays the rest of the year.

It was another blue sky day but on the plateau a stiff breeze was blowing. The wind was warm so it was fine but I imagine on a cold, wet day this could well be a very exposed stretch of Camino.

Las Inviernas looks more like a collection of sheds as you approach it. What little there is of the village hides on the other side of the ridge, presumably sheltering from the worst of the winds and the fiercest of the sun. There is a bar and three fuentes. The church is rather pretty with its wooden portico and what I take to be Inquisition graffiti on the entrance pillars. Very friendly locals, especially the señora who runs the bar.

Two or three kilometres after you've crossed the high-speed railway line you arrive at the motorway. Just before you cross it there is a petrol station and a cafeteria. I hadn't planned to stop here, as I'd already done so in Las Inviernas, but there was cold beer, bar food and 'platos combinados' and some very inviting tables and chairs in the sun.

I didn't stop in Mirabueno but I did notice a bar (open) and there were two fuentes just after the village. At this point you are within spitting distance of Mandayona, which you can see two or three kilometres away. It's a nice easy downhill run-in from here.

The albergue in Mandayona was a genuine surprise. I was expecting to sleep on the floor of the Ayuntamiento on a blow-up mattress. Hot water but no shower, I'd read somewhere. In fact, it is the cleanest and possibly best albergue I've stayed in. It is in the Medical Centre, hence the cleanliness. Its in a new building, certainly sterile, but with a great hot water shower and even Wifi. On the downside, well you can't have everything, there are no blankets and there are no shutters/blinds to the window - you're on the ground floor. Neither worried me but Peregrinas may find the latter unsettling. You will need to give Oscar ample notice (48 hours) of your visit on: 619 463 734. Donativo.

There was light on at Hostal Rural Cumbres de Castill but no sign of life at the Hostal El Cuartel Del Rio Dulce (closed for the winter?). I ate well enough at Bar Los Milagros (closed Mondays) and the barman was 'muy simpatico'. I never did find Bar/Restaurante La Estampida. Perhaps that's down on the river and I will come across it tomorrow? There's an ATM machine here and several fuentes.

Alfìn del Asfalto
 
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Madrid Coda

After at least three unsuccessful attempts over the years, I finally got into the monastery of Las Trinitarias Dezcalzadas this morning to see Cervantes' memorial. It is a simple marble plaque on the wall on the left as you enter with a quotation from his unfinished novel Persiles Y Sigismunda:

El tiempo es breve
las ansias crecen
las esperanzas manguan
y, con todo esto,
llevo la vida sobre el deseo
que tengo de vivir.

Which I think translates as:

Life is brief, anxieties increase, hopes fade and, inspite of all that, I endure the struggles that I have to live.

Anyone able to confirm?

I suspect there may be more to see in the crypt. Anybody know?

The monastery is between Calle Las Huertas and Calle Lope de Vega. From what I've read, Cervantes would almost certainly have been riled to be buried in a street named after his contemporary, far more prolific and, at the time, far more successful competitor. But I think Cervantes has the last laugh. Without wishing to diminish the man, can anyone outside of academe or the Hispanic world name anything by Lope de Vega? Don Quijote is universal.

The memorial has a wreath from the Spanish army. Cervantes had fought in the decisive naval battle at Lepanto against the Ottoman empire. He is often depicted in statues with a quill in one hand and his other hand on his sword. A soldier and a poet. On his way back from Lepanto he was taken captive by the Barbary pirates. He remained a prisoner, possibly a slave, until the order of Trinitarias Dezcalzadas ransomed him 3 or 4 years later. Like Dostoevsky, he is said to have been seconds away from execution, having made at least three unsuccessful attempts at a breakout while in Algiers. Luckily for him, he was thought to be of greater value alive than dead. He hadn't made his name by then but was found to be carrying a letter of recommendation from John of Austria, the king's half brother, saying that he had fought well. The pirates thought he must be someone of value.

I was interested to learn that Cervantes' wife, Catalina de Salazar, is also interred in the monastery, as is Lope de Vega's daughter, who was a nun there.

You can either visit the monastery as part of an organised and pre-planned tour or as an individual half an hour before Mass. Monday to Friday from 08:00-08:30, Saturdays and eves of holy days from 19:30-20:00, Sundays and holy days from 11:30-12:00.

Alfìn del Asfalto
 
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